Pact for stem cell bank renewed


The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) will bring Japanese scientists on board and rely on Japanese research infrastructure to a large extent as it sets out to create an Indian human induced stem cell haplobank for patients requiring bone marrow transplantation.

Human induced stem cells are collected from an adult and tweaked to behave like pluripotent stem cells — the master cells that can produce any tissue that the body needs to repair itself.

Once realised, such a bank can be a perpetual source of tissues that can be inserted into a patient through bone marrow transplant. The scientific challenges to realise such a bank are formidable.

Such a bank is currently not existing in the world, though scientists are trying hard to create a functional bank since the breakthrough by Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka in 2006. Yamanaka, a professor at the Kyoto University, was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery in 2012.

The DBT already has a partnership with the Kyoto University on the induced human stem cell research. Two Japanese researchers were brought into Indian research programmes involving National Centre for Biological Sciences and Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, both in Bengaluru, K Vijayraghavan, secretary in Department of Biotechnology said here. “We are now in a position to take on a national mission on the use of stem cell technology in human diseases, with the Japanese collaboration,” he said.

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